Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Interview with Kate Jacobs

I absolutely idolize authors and any contact I have with them is extremely exciting for me. That's why I consider myself very fortuntate that Kate Jacobs, author of THE FRIDAY NIGHT KNITTING CLUB and COMFORT FOOD, agreed to answer a few questions for my blog. I recently read and reviewed her latest book COMFORT FOOD and enjoyed it as much, if not more, than her first book.

Booking Mama: How did you get the idea for COMFORT FOOD? Do you enjoy cooking or even watching food shows on television?
KJ: I LOVE cooking shows on TV. It's just so welcoming and inspirational, to see these great cooks whip up a meal. It makes me have these visions of myself being an uber-entertainer. (This isn't quite the reality.) And when I'm writing, it's nice to imagine a world I'd like to be in, which made it easy to focus on the foodie scene. At home, I really am a basic cook. No gourmet here! I like things to be easy: I love to just put something together and toss it in the oven. If I can roast it, I'm happy. Or, better yet, get my husband to fire up the grill.

Booking Mama: Are any of the characters in COMFORT FOOD based on people you know?
KJ: No, not really. There's not one character that I'd point to and say that it was a certain person in my life. For me, writing is also about imagining, and that involves creating fictional people. That said, some of the quirks and experiences shared by the characters are a bit closer to me. A fun one is Hannah's sweet tooth, for example. I didn't have to go far to imagine a writer who eats candies as she writes! As I answer your questions right now, I'm snacking on wine gums -- a gummy kind of candy -- that I brought back with me the last time I visited my family in Canada.

Booking Mama: Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
KJ: I love short story collections. Whenever I see the words "a collection of stories" on a book cover then I simply must buy that book. It's like kryptonite: I'm powerless against it. My favorite contemporary short story writers are Alice Munro, William Trevor, and Alistair MacLeod. Of course, I read a ton of novels as well. I love Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian MacEwan. Ann Patchett. Joanna Trollope. Different style, different voices: it's good to mix things up. I am also a sucker for any book about a dog. And I will always, always take a chance on a first novel. You never know when you might discover a new favorite!

Booking Mama: Are you currently a member of a book club?
KJ: No, but I feel as though I am, because I telephone book clubs and discuss my novels with them! I do that many, many times each month, and I love it! It's so nice to be invited to spend time with readers, even if only for a little while. (And if folks are curious, they can invite me to telephone their club when they discuss Comfort Food by emailing me via my website at . It's that easy.)

Booking Mama: What do you want your readers to take away from COMFORT FOOD?
KJ: I simply want readers to spend a relaxing, enjoyable time with my characters. My books are the sitting-down-with-a-cup-of-tea-and-having-a-bit-of-me-time kind of stories, I think. They're about having a fun read. Sure, I try out different themes. In Comfort Food, I wanted to look at the influence of expectations and also how our family dynamics shape us. Also the challenge of learning to accept and absorb all the different experiences that come at you; the main character is dealing with a full-on emotional overload while also trying to redefine who she wants to be. There's more, but I think every reader has the right to find their own take-away and to determine for themselves what a book means, or even choose to find no take-away at all. And sometimes, in exploring situations for my characters, I luck out and discover a few things for myself.

I want to thank Ms. Jacobs for graciously taking time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for me. Her new book, COMFORT FOOD, will be available May 6th.


Anonymous said...

Kate called into my book club to discuss her first novel and was wonderful. I am so glad to see that so many (including myself) are enjoying Comfort Food. Thanks for posting this interview!

Anonymous said...

I'm in Stephanie's book club and I really enjoyed our talk with Kate. It was fun to get the author's take on different things in her book. It brought a new understanding of the novel to me.

Julie P. said...

I actually feel the same way when we're fortunate enough to have author chats! They bring the books to an entirely new level for me.